Matches (19)
NZ v AUS (1)
WPL (2)
PSL 2024 (3)
Ranji Trophy (2)
Nepal Tri-Nation (2)
Sheffield Shield (3)
CWC Play-off (4)
Dang CL (1)
WCL 2 (1)

Usman Khawaja on Australia's Covid challenge: 'This season might be even more fluid than last'

Rising cases and heavy restrictions in Victoria and New South Wales are set to cause disruption

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Queensland celebrate with the Sheffield Shield  •  Getty Images

Queensland celebrate with the Sheffield Shield  •  Getty Images

Usman Khawaja is prepared for the Australian season to be more disrupted than last summer due to the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19 with players needing to be ready to take the field at short notice.
Khawaja will captain both his state, Queensland, and his BBL side this season having been named as Sydney Thunder's new captain. The BBL still has some time to work with ahead of its December 5 start - with hopes that the vaccine rollout will be at a stage to loosen some restrictions around New South Wales and Victoria - but the beginning of the state programme is facing difficulties while the WBBL is due to begin on October 14.
The Marsh Cup and WNCL matches slated to start in the middle of September will not take place and instead likely be moved to later in the season. There remains uncertainty over the early rounds of the Sheffield Shield which is due to start on September 28, although Khawaja suggested that Queensland's opening game against Tasmania - two states without major restrictions - could still go ahead.
Last season the early rounds of the Shield - which was trimmed to eight matches per team - were held in an Adelaide-based hub but that is unlikely to be replicated this time around both from a cost perspective and with Cricket Australia putting a priority on the mental wellbeing of players. Currently, there are six rounds penciled in before the BBL, and five before the Test season starts against Afghanistan, but how much gets played remains up in the air.
"It's a very fluid situation but we just have to stay ready to play and do it wherever we can," Khawaja said. "With CA and the ACA [Australian Cricketers' Association] working together I think it's more about what we can do a week out, because it's too hard to plan for anything four weeks out.
"It might be a bit easier if the Big Bash is in a bubble or international cricket is in a bubble where they can plan a bit further out, not sure if domestic cricket will be in a bubble this time. It might be if two teams can play then play, but if you can't we'll have to figure it out later in the season. This season might be even more fluid than last."
Khawaja said he had adjusted reasonably well to the challenges of cricket in the Covid era - partly, he attributed, to his international experience - and was grateful to still have the opportunity to play, but acknowledged that many players found it difficult last season with the Sheffield Shield stretching into mid-April.
"Last year, it definitely took a more mental toll. As everyone has been talking about there is bubble fatigue but in this day and age you just have accept it, it's the world we live in at the moment. We are playing cricket...even if we are doing that not at 100% and we are a bit tired and fatigued that's the way it's got to be.
"I try to bring some perspective. We have to be grateful. We are allowed to play a game we love, yes it's a bit tougher than normal but there's a lot of people doing it tougher than us so from my point it's business as usual. We've just got to do little things that will suck this year like they did last year but we are very privileged to be playing a game we love, so it's all about perspective from my point of view."
The India women's squad along with Australia players from Victoria and New South Wales are currently doing two weeks quarantine in Brisbane ahead of their series which has been moved entirely to Queensland.
Afghanistan are due to be the first men's international visitors of the season for their one-off Test in Hobart at the end of November ahead of the men's Ashes which continues to be clouded with uncertainty and the potential of a number of England players withdrawing. Australia's Test players who are also involved in the T20 World Cup may not be available to face Afghanistan due to their quarantine period on returning after the tournament.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo